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India Journal: Cyclone Hudhud

November 12, 2014

I recently returned from a 10-day trip to visit Trickle Up in India.  Inspired by the people I met every day, I kept a detailed travel diary.  In five installments that will be posted to the Trickle Up blog through next week, I hope to convey a first-hand view of the great work that Trickle Up is doing in India and our potential for even greater impact.  I invite your comments and questions, either posted to the Trickle Up blog or emailed to me directly  at abramsw@trickleup.org. This is part 2 in a series.

Bill Abrams
President, Trickle Up

Cyclone-Hudhud_header

The big news on TV and in the papers this morning is Cyclone Hudhud.  Around midday on Sunday it hit the Indian states of Andra Pradesh and Odisha, with the greatest impact in AP (the typical shorthand for Andhra Pradesh. Speaking of state names and abbreviations, the British changed the name of Odisha to Orissa in 1936 and the name Odisha was officially restored in 2011).

Cyclone prone areas

Cyclone prone areas in India

I am especially concerned about Hudhud because we are planning to travel to Odisha on Friday to visit several villages where Trickle Up works.

Similar to a hurricane, a cyclone is a giant swirling wind that lifts an enormous volume of water over a land mass.  Cyclones are relatively common, with major ones occurring every 7-10 years along the Bay of Bengal.  Cyclone Aila in 2009 affected several hundred Trickle Up participants in West Bengal.  Cyclones destroy property on a massive scale, can kill many thousands, ruin crops and livestock.  The salt water of a cyclone contaminates farm land and drinking water for animals.

Hudhud’s speed was reported to be up to 112 miles per hour.  There were 15 inches of rain in about 24 hours and, combined with water whipped up from the Bay of Bengal, Hudhud was a grave threat to millions of people in the two Indian states.

While there was heavy damage — especially in the port city of Visakhapatnam in AP — to buildings, power plants and airports, only 46 deaths in AP and an estimated 6 in Odisha were reported. India has developed impressive resources to cope with various types of natural disasters.  As Hudhud approached, the government relocated an estimated 400,000 people to less vulnerable locations.

The Indian government has extensive weather forecasting systems and disaster-preparedness plans, which helped reduce the impact of Hudhud on people, if not on the buildings and farm land.  Special credit is being given to an Indian weather forecasting satellite that was launched in July 2013 and went into operation this January.  While the Indian space agency ISRO received a great deal of attention just a few weeks earlier when it successfully sent an orbiter around Mars, its INSAT-3D weather satellite may have been its most heroic achievement.

Next in the series: THOUGHT LEADERS & HANDHOLDERS

“…As distinguished as the panelists were, the speakers who stole the show were five women who had never finished school, lived a lifetime of poverty, and were in Delhi for the first time in their lives.  No doubt also the first time they’d ever been in a hotel or slept in the kind of bed that you and I sleep on.  These “didis” (“sisters”) were all graduates of Trickle Up, and they were there to give their perspective on ultrapoverty….”

India Journal: “Doing the Needful”

November 12, 2014

I recently returned from a 10-day trip to visit Trickle Up in India.  Inspired by the people I met every day, I kept a detailed travel diary.  In five installments that will be posted to the Trickle Up blog through next week, I hope to convey a first-hand view of the great work that Trickle Up is doing in India and our potential for even greater impact.  I invite your comments and questions, either posted to the Trickle Up blog or emailed to me directly  at abramsw@trickleup.org. This is part 1 in a series.

Bill Abrams
President, Trickle Up

 

Among the many qualities I adore about India are some of its distinctive phrasings and expressions.  After my flight landed in Delhi, I stopped to convert dollars to rupees at a Bank of India money exchange just past the baggage carousel.  The sign over the counter read “Bank of India, A Government of India Undertaking.”  The Bank of India has $388 billion in assets, making it one of the 75 largest banks in the world, which seems out of proportion with modesty of “undertaking,” a word I later learned is used to describe state-controlled enterprises in India.

Another uniquely Indian phrase I find charming is “please do the needful,” a very polite way of saying “just do it.”  It’s been used in India for about four centuries but in some quarters is now considered passé.

Language also matters a great deal to us at Trickle Up.  A few years ago we adopted the term “ultrapoor,” which is more common in South Asia than the US, to describe the population that Trickle Up serves.  We use “ultrapoor” to describe people who live well below the $1.25/day definition (adjusted from the $1/day standard that a World Bank economist conceived in the late 1980s as a threshold for “extreme poverty.”) There’s a great deal of confusion about what the $1.25/day definition really means; it’s more of a statistical index than a literal number, but that’s a topic for another day.  What matters is that it became a useful metaphor or bumpersticker-length phrase to draw attention to the estimated 1.2 billion people on the planet who live in conditions of consistent poverty, marginalization, prejudice and neglect. Back in 1979, when Trickle Up was founded, we spoke of our purpose as to help the “poorest of the poor.”

The simplest way to think of the ultrapoor is the estimated 300-400 million people who manage to survive every day on the equivalent of $0.50-$1.00. They have modest and inconsistent earnings, little or no savings to fall back in hard times or to invest in their own futures, no meaningful productive assets.  They don’t have enough to eat, especially in the 2-4 months of the “lean season” or “hungry season” preceding harvest time.  They are disproportionately female and rural.  They have little or no education, typically live in mud or mud-and-brick huts with only a thatched roof or less, and have little access to health care.

It’s hard enough for us to imagine living on the equivalent of $1/day, and nearly impossible to really understand getting by on even less.  We took on the label of “ultrapoor” as our term of choice, but it is unfamiliar to American ears as a word or a concept.  Sometimes we explain it as the “last mile of poverty.”   Others sometimes talk about the “invisible poor” or people living in “chronic poverty.”

Having been fussy about language all my life (including about four decades as a journalist or writer in one form or another), I do think words matter, especially as Trickle Up does its part to help people understand this population of 300-400 million humans and what each of us can do to help them achieve a better life.  Words matter but, in the end, what really, truly matters is that we all do the needful.

Bill Abrams

Next in the series: CYCLONE HUDHUD

The big news on TV and in the papers this morning is Cyclone Hudhud.  Around midday on Sunday it hit the Indian states of Andra Pradesh and Odisha at a speed reported to be up to 112 miles per hour. As Hudhud approached, the government relocated 400,000 people to less vulnerable locations…

Trickle Up & Accion to Discuss Inclusion of People with Disabilities in Economic Strengthening Programs

August 6, 2014

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To end extreme poverty by 2030, it is critical that people with disabilities are included in all economic strengthening work. On Wednesday, August 13 from 10:30-11:30am, join Trickle Up’s Director for Central America Michael Felix and Josh Goldstein, Principal Director for Economic Citizenship and Disability at the Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion International who will present learning from the disability-inclusive programming of both Trickle Up and the Accion Center for Financial Inclusion. Presenters will share lessons and resources from livelihood development and microfinance perspectives that will help webinar participants and their organizations answer the question: “How can our push and pull strategies be more disability-inclusive?”

This is the 3rd installment in the “Towards Resilient Livelihoods for Very Poor Households” webinar series, which focuses on recent examples from field practice that focus on “push” strategies targeting very vulnerable populations and helping them build a minimum level of assets for eventual engagement in markets. At the same time, in each webinar we examine whether existing markets or “pull” strategies provide viable opportunities for these populations.

Brought to you by SEEP’s Strengthening the Economic Potential of the Ultra Poor (STEP UP) Working Group.  Learn more about the series and view past webinars >>

Click here to REGISTER NOW!

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Speakers:

Michael Felix – Program Director for Central America, Trickle Up

Applying entrepreneurial skills honed during five years in the software industry, Michael has worked to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of community and economic development programs and organizations in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Michael is currently the Program Director for Central America at Trickle Up, where he leads program strategy and efforts for the region with a strong focus on inclusive development. He is co-author of Disability, Poverty and Livelihoods, a guide written to share learning from a recent USAID-supported livelihood development project for people with disabilities in rural Guatemala. He has a BA in Economics and Philosophy from Boston College and an MA in International Political Economy and Development from Fordham University.

Josh Goldstein - Principal Director for Economic Citizenship & Disability Inclusion, Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion International

Mr. Goldstein was part of the team that founded the Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion in 2009. He is Program Manager for the Center’s “Financial Inclusion for Persons with Disabilities” initiative. He has spearheaded the development of the Framework for Disability Inclusion and is managing the implementation of the Framework at Fundación Paraguaya, an award winning microfinance institution (MFI) in Paraguay. He is also overseeing a new partnership with three MFIs in India to implement the Framework there. In January, 2014, the Center published a series of disability inclusion tools and trainings, based on the work in Paraguay, which are open source and immediately available to MFIs and other interested financial service providers. As the Center’s global advocate for disability inclusion he gives talks on disability at conferences around the world and works closely with the UN. Mr. Goldstein writes a blog post for the Center as “Mr. Provocative.” He is also a playwright, with several plays produced in London. He taught for many years at Boston University.

Trickle Up featured on AOL.com!

June 19, 2014

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Today,  Trickle Up is featured in the AOL.com homepage’s Make a Difference section! AOL.com visitors are invited to read the story of Trickle Up participant Sushila Phulbargia, mother of three daughters and a son in Orissa, India. Through Sushila’s story, visitors learned how moms living in extreme poverty can build bright new futures for themselves and their families through Trickle Up’s unique development program.

AOL_MB_Canv_1C_1_MasterAOL.com is an internationally viewed website attracting millions of engaged daily visitors. The Make a Difference section is part of AOL.com‘s commitment to raise awareness for non-profit organizations and empower users to learn, share and connect with causes. Trickle Up is featured on the site the entire day, reaching AOL’s users and raising awareness about extreme poverty among women living on less than $1.25 a day in Central America, West Africa, India and the Middle East.

 

Thirty-fifth Anniversary Gala Honors CGAP, Raises Over $800K

April 18, 2014
Cipriani Wall Street

Click photo to launch Flickr photo album

Trickle Up hosted more than 300 guests and raised more than $800,000 at its thirty-fifth anniversary Gala on Tuesday, April 8, 2014 at Cipriani Wall Street. The gala honored the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP), recipient of Trickle Up’s 2014 Leet Humanitarian Award, accepted by CGAP CEO Tilman Ehrbeck.

Since it was founded in 1979, Trickle Up has been a pioneer in global poverty alleviation, helping people living in extreme poverty to build sustainable livelihoods. By providing a seed capital grant, training and savings support, Trickle Up helps participants develop the skills and confidence they need to take their first transformative steps out of poverty by building sustainable livelihood that improve quality of life for them and their families.

In presenting the award, Trickle Up board member Reshmi Paul noted, “CGAP established an ambitious and innovative strategy to help bring programs like ours to scale so that we can share our knowledge and experience widely around the globe. That is why we salute CGAP and its CEO Tilman Ehrbeck here tonight.”

In accepting the Leet Award, Mr. Ehrbeck said, “The Graduation Program is built around the same underlying philosophy – when given the opportunity, the poorest take destiny into their own hands and can build pathways out of extreme poverty.”

The Leet Humanitarian Award is named for Glen and Mildred Robbins Leet who founded Trickle Up in 1979. It is presented annually to those who’ve made exemplary contributions to the achievement of Trickle Up’s mission to eradicate poverty in its most extreme form by reaching the poorest and most vulnerable people living in extreme poverty. Past recipients of the award have included venture capitalist and former Trickle Up board member Alan J. Patricof, corporate partner Newton Running and the Lee family, and Trickle Up board member Wendy Gordon Rockefeller.

CGAP’s mission is to improve the lives of poor people by spurring innovations and advancing knowledge and solutions that promote responsible, sustainable, inclusive financial markets. CGAP is a global partnership of 34 leading organizations that seeks to advance financial inclusion. Housed at the World Bank, CGAP combines a pragmatic approach to responsible market development with an evidence-based advocacy platform to increase access to the financial services the poor need to improve their lives. Trickle Up’s work has been supported by the CGAP-Ford Foundation Graduation Program.

The Leet Humanitarian Award is named for Glen and Mildred Robbins Leet who founded Trickle Up in 1979. It is presented annually to those who’ve made exemplary contributions to the achievement of Trickle Up’s mission to eradicate poverty in its most extreme form by reaching the poorest and most vulnerable people living in extreme poverty. Past recipients of the award have included venture capitalist and former Trickle Up board member Alan J. Patricof, corporate partner Newton Running and the Lee family, and Trickle Up board member Wendy Gordon Rockefeller.

Fighting Poverty through Partnership: Our new Alliance with UNHCR

March 27, 2014

As part of Trickle Up’s ongoing work to support people living in ultrapoverty to lead full and productive lives, Trickle Up is now helping other organizations to include marginalized and vulnerable populations in their programs and use the tools of economic strengthening to help better their lives.

UNHCR Graduation Pilots Newsletter

Click to read the first newsletter

We are delighted to join with Dr. Syed Hashemi of BRAC University to offer technical assistance to a variety of organizations and to share with them the lessons from the CGAP-Ford Foundation Graduation Program (graduation.cgap.org). Dr. Hashemi co-initiated the Graduation Program, which is a global effort to understand how safety nets, livelihoods, and microfinance can be sequenced to create pathways for the poorest to graduate out of extreme poverty, adapting a methodology used by BRAC in Bangladesh.

In 2013, we entered into partnership with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which seeks to modify the Graduation Approach to suit the unique needs of the refugee and asylum seeker population it serves. With support from Trickle Up, UNHCR has launched projects in Cairo, Egypt and San José, Costa Rica  and will soon start a third in Ecuador.

UNHCR has published the first newsletter to launch this exciting new initiative.

 

Ending Poverty for Everyone: Disability Inclusion in Development

February 27, 2014
A group of participants with disability outside Rabinal in Baja Verapaz, Guatemala, hold a Village Savings and Lending group meeting. Julia, in the foreground, hosts meetings because paths in her village are difficult to traverse in a wheelchair.

A group of participants with disability outside Rabinal in Baja Verapaz, Guatemala, hold a Village Savings and Lending group meeting. Julia, in the foreground, hosts meetings because paths in her village are difficult to traverse in a wheelchair.

Trickle Up works hard to include people with disabilities in our programs. Given that we focus on working with people living with ultrapoverty, this commitment makes sense. People with disabilities are over-represented among the poorest in the world, and under-represented among development projects worldwide (AusAID estimates that only 3-4% receive any kind of assistance from International Development organizations).

We are proud of our commitment to inclusion and, in 2012, 13% of the households we served had at least one family member with a disability. Our participants include people with disabilities who pursue livelihood activities with TU support and women who support a family member with a disability.

While all TU programming is now inclusive, last year we completed a project in Guatemala to enable 320 people with disabilities to develop livelihood activities, save actively in a group, and learn planning and business skills for the future. We worked together with four community-based NGOs and one municipal government to extend services to people with disabilities in this USAID-funded project. In November, in Guatemala City we held a workshop for partner staff, USAID staff, other funders, government representatives, and disability-focused organizations. TU participants from rural northern villages were invited to attend and share their own experiences of the project with others. One commented, raising his hands, “my life has changed and look how far I’ve come! I never thought I would be here talking to you all!”

Click to read the full manual

Click to read the full manual

We’re pleased to share the lessons from that project in a new publication called Disability, Poverty and Livelihoods, a guide to lessons learned during the project and suggestions for effectively incorporating people with disabilities in livelihood development programs. This is available in English and Spanish. We’ve shared this with economic development practitioners and the disability community.

Next week, on March 3rd, Trickle Up will host No Limits: An Expert Panel on Global Poverty and Disability in New York featuring Judith Heumann, Special Advisor for Disability Rights at the U.S. Department of State, Charlotte McClain-Nhlapo, Coordinator for Disability and Inclusive Development at USAID and Jo Sanson, Trickle Up’s Director of Monitoring, Evaluation and Research. We hope to encourage more economic development and humanitarian organizations to ensure people with disabilities are a part of their work. We hope you’ll join the conversation on Twitter 3/3 from 6:45 to 7:45EST following @TrickleUpNYC and using #nolimits.

 

UPDATE: Due to severe weather conditions in Washington DC, it is impossible for two of our panelists—Judith Heumann and Charlotte McClain-Nhlapo—to be with us in person for No Limits: An Expert Panel on Global Poverty & Disability, originally scheduled for this evening (3/3) from 6-8 PM. We are postponing the event to May and will be in touch soon with the new date. We hope you will join us then, please stay tuned for details.

 

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